The January transfer window is an intriguing period on the footballing calendar. Clubs have just 30 days to complete deals, which often leads to inflated price tags, depleted squads, and signings made out of panic rather than necessity.
Some would argue the winter transfer period is unnecessary — others consider it an opportunity for clubs to either cement their position at the top of their respective competition, or attempt to rescue a flailing campaign by way of recruiting new personnel.
Top players rarely switch clubs during the winter transfer window due to a number of reasons. The rules of the UEFA Champions League prevent a player from featuring in the competition for two different clubs within the same season — a scenario known as ‘cup-tied’. Secondly, it can also be an unsettling experience for a player trying to gel with a group of new teammates who’ve already spent a half a season playing together. What’s more, with the window open while the season is still in progress, a player who transfers between clubs in the new year effectively has no time to adjust to his new surroundings before taking to the pitch.
With these complications in mind, it’s difficult for managers to keep a clear head while juggling an ongoing season with the hustle and bustle of the January transfer window. Many Premier League managers will feel no need to tinker with their current squads, but in case some are unsure whether to splash the cash or save up for a summer spending spree, here’s the perfect January signing for each member of the English top-flight.
20 Arsenal | Lars Bender
Arsene Wenger has reportedly set his sights on bringing Lars Bender to the Emirates during the January transfer window. The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder is among the Gunners boss’ top candidates to fill the void left by anchor man Francis Coquelin, who is expected to be sidelined for at least two months with damaged knee ligaments. Bender is a combative, tireless midfielder with a knack for cutting out incisive passes in midfield, making him the ideal player to provide defensive insurance behind his more creative midfielder colleagues. The German, 26, is one of the unsung stars in Bundesliga and would likely command a fee of around £15m.
19 Aston Villa | Salvatore Sirigu
Salvatore Sirigu would likely consider Aston Villa a step down from Paris Saint-Germain, but the 28-year-old might be forced to bite his tongue and explore less prestigious given his lack of match action in the French capital. The Italian has fallen behind Kevin Trapp in the pecking order since the German signed from Eintracht Frankfurt during July 2015. Considering Brad Guzan’s shakiness in goal of late, Remi Garde has reportedly been keeping tabs on Sirigu and could be poised to launch an official bid for the out-of-favour stopper come January. With Sirigu and Trapp the only goalkeepers in its first-team squad, PSG could be unwilling to let the former go for anything less than £15m.
18 Bournemouth | Yoan Gouffran
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is rumored to be keen on adding some firepower to his injury-ravaged Cherries squad with a swoop for Yoan Gouffran during the winter. The Newcastle United winger has played just 86 minutes of Premier League football under Steve McLaren this season, suggesting the former England boss could be willing to cash in on the 29-year-old once the January window opens. According to reports, Gouffran is also wanted by Championship side Wolverhampton Wolves, so the Cherries will probably be asked to pay upwards of £5m to secure his services.
17 Chelsea | Antoine Griezmann
Rumors linking Chelsea with a blockbuster move for Antoine Griezmann have been gathering momentum this season in light of the Blues’ horrific opening four months of the campaign. The once untouchable Jose Mourinho is scrambling to get the wheels turning at Stamford Bridge with a host of his key players failing to live up the impeccable standards they set last season. The Portuguese is likely to be in the market for a superstar player this January to aid his cause, but he could struggle to earn the financial backing of his superiors given his side’s atrocious run of form. Griezmann certainly has the talent to spark a Blues’ revival, but the club would likely need to fork out more than £50m to lure him to London.
16 Crystal Palace | Islam Slimani
Crystal Palace is reportedly weighing up a £14m bid to sign Algerian striker Islam Slimani from Sporting Lisbon during the January transfer window. None of the Eagles’ strikers have netted a single league goal to date this season, heaping pressure on Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie to get on the scoresheet instead. Slimani, who has already tucked home seven goals from 10 appearances in the Portuguese Liga Sagres, could be the ideal striker to feed off the creative talent of Cabaye and Bolasie.
15 Everton | Andriy Yarmolenko
Andriy Yarmolenko is thought to be one of Everton’s prime targets in the upcoming January transfer window after one of his representatives, Vadim Shabily, recently posted a photo of himself posing at Goodison Park on Instagram. Should the Toffees’ supposed interest in the Dynamo Kiev winger materialize, Roberto Martinez could deploy the 24-year-old as part of a potentially lethal attacking quartet alongside Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu. However, the Ukrainian club consider Yarmolenko one of its most precious assets and would likely reject any offer less than £15m.
14 Leicester City | Tendayi Darikwa
Claudio Ranieri’s top priority during the January transfer window will be to ensure his star striker Jamie Vardy remains a Leicester City player for the remainder of the season. However, given the Foxes blistering start to the campaign, the club may seek to bolster the first-team squad in a bid to remain at the pointy end of the Premier League table. Even though Ranieri has significant financial resources at his disposal, the Italian won’t want to disturb the chemistry among his in-form side with new signings. Instead, he may opt to snap up a rotatable squad player like 23-year-old Burnley utility-man Tendayi Darikwa, who could be allowed to move on for roughly £7m.
13 Liverpool | Timo Horn
Jurgen Klopp is reportedly aiming to bring in another goalkeeper to provide competition for Simon Mignolet and Adam Bogdan between the sticks at Anfield. The Liverpool boss has supposedly set his sights on his 22-year-old compatriot Timo Horn, who has cemented his place as the first-choice stopper at FC Koln. Although the young stopper is one of many exciting prospects rising through the Bundesliga ranks, he could be given the all clear to jump ship for a meager £6m due to a release clause in his contract.
12 Manchester City | Isco
Manchester City has a financial pulling power like few other clubs in modern football and Manuel Pellegrini is apparently set to dip into his transfer kitty for a big-name player come January. The Chilean is reportedly keen to lure Isco from Real Madrid with the promise of not only a handsome salary, but regular first-team football to boot. Although he has impressed when given the opportunity, the Spanish playmaker is far from the first name on the glittering Los Blancos team sheet. Eager to capitalize on the situation, Pellegrini would probably need to cough up at least £35m to be reunited with his former Malaga colleague at the Etihad this winter.
11 Manchester United | Thomas Muller
His current brand of football might not be the most enjoyable to watch, but Louis van Gaal certainly has a knack for attracting big names to Manchester United. According to reports, Thomas Muller is the latest superstar on the Old Trafford boss’ radar. The 64-year-old, who worked with Muller during his spell at Bayern Munich between 2009 and 2011, has marked the German as the man to launch United back to the summit of European football. However, Pep Guardiola will almost certainly block any attempts to sign one of his finest players — unless the Red Devils elect to waft an astronomical fee in the realm of £80m under his nose, perhaps.
10 Newcastle United | Victor Valdes
It’s difficult to fathom how Victor Valdes’ Manchester United ‘career’ has gone so horribly wrong. Having fallen out with Louis van Gaal over his alleged refusal to partake in a reserves match during July 2015, the Spaniard could be offered a lifeline by Newcastle United during the January transfer window. The Magpies have kept only three clean sheets in all competitions this campaign and could use a goalkeeper of Valdes’ class to add some steel to their defence. Reports indicate the former Barcelona stopper would be allowed to move to St. James’ Park on a free transfer in the winter period.
9 Norwich City | Simone Zaza
Reports indicate Norwich City boss Alex Neil is eager to use the January transfer window to add a prolific striker to his squad, namely Juventus hitman Simeone Zaza. The misfiring duo of Cameron Jerome and Dieumerci Mbokani has been a source of frustration at Carrow Road this season, leaving the likes of Nathan Redmond and Russell Martin to chip in seven of the Canaries’ nine league goals to date. Whether on a permanent or loan basis, Norwich could offer an intriguing venture for Zaza, who has struggled to secure a first-team spot under Massimiliano Allegri this season.
8 Southampton | Giannelli Imbula
Having lost the likes of Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin and Adam Lallana in recent seasons, Southampton scouts must now be experts at finding adequate replacements for top players at the club. Porto midfielder Giannelli Imbula is reportedly being touted as the first-choice candidate to replace midfield powerhouse Victor Wanyama should the Kenyan wish to capitalise on interest from Tottenham and Chelsea. Imbula, who joined the Portuguese club from Marseille in July 2015, is said to have a contract clause that would require clubs to pay £21m in order to sign him in six months’ time. However, it remains unclear what would happen should Ronald Koeman pursue the midfielder this January.
7 Stoke City | Lewis Cook
Stoke City has forged a reputation for pulling off a bargain or two in the transfer market in recent seasons and reports suggest Mark Hughes has plans to do so again during the January window. The Welshman is said to be keeping tabs on Leeds United starlet Lewis Cook, who has been earmarked as a future Premier League star after a series of impressive performances in the Championship. The combative 18-year-old would fit like a glove in Hughes’ Stoke team, although he’s likely to cost around £10m considering multiple clubs are interested in prying him away from Yorkshire.
6 Sunderland | Nils Bouekou
Nowadays, it’s rare for clubs to let their brightest young talents reach the end of their contract, thus allowing them to join other teams without generating any financial compensation whatsoever. Nils Bouekou is set to leave French club Auxerre at the end of the season after refusing to extend his deal with the Ligue 2 outfit amid interest from numerous top tier clubs. Reportedly prepared to snap up the want-away youngster during the January transfer window, the Black Cats are likely to get a cut-price deal for the powerful 20-year-old attacker.
5 Swansea | Michael Keane
Swansea would look a different side without the leadership of captain Ashley Williams in its back four, but Garry Monk is seeking to change that by bringing another promising centre-back to the Liberty Stadium. The Swans are reportedly planning to launch a bid for Burnley youngster Michael Keane during the January transfer window to improve its squad depth. The 22-year-old, who has previously played for Manchester United, Derby and Leicester City, will likely command around £5m to complete a transfer in January.
4 Tottenham Hotspur | Axel Witsel
Tottenham Hotspur is yet to lose a Premier League match since its opening day loss to Manchester United nearly four months ago. Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly eager to issue a statement of intent to Spurs’ title rivals by sealing a big-name transfer during the January window. Zenit Saint Petersburg midfielder Axel Witsel is said to be among the Argentine’s top targets due to his impressive passing, tackling and shooting abilities. However, the Belgian would likely require a fee of roughly £25m amid competing interest from AC Milan.
3 Watford | Seydou Doumbia
Watford is punching above its weight in its mid-table position on the Premier League table, but manager Quique Sanchez Flores will argue there’s still room for improvement. The January transfer often provides newly promoted clubs with an opportunity to bolster their squad if they find themselves struggling to match the rest of the competition. Watford is reportedly setting its sights high in the transfer market, with CSKA Moscow striker Seydou Doumbia rumoured to be under close watch. The Ivorian is on loan from Roma and although the Russian club is eager secure his services permanently, Watford could hijack the deal albeit at a cost likely to be around the £15m mark.
2 West Bromwich Albion | Charlie Austin
West Bromwich Albion has faced a barrage of interest in its young starlet Saido Berahino throughout the past two transfer windows. Despite the Baggies successful efforts to keep the England international among their ranks, the 22-year-old is odds on to leave The Hawthorns when the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea rekindle their interest this January. According to reports, Tony Pulis considers Charlie Austin the best man to fill the boots of his young striker should he finally move on. The Queens Park Rangers star, who scored 18 Premier League goals in the 2014-15 season, will probably cost around £10m to leave Loftus Road during the winter.
1 West Ham United | Gokhan Tore
West Ham United boss Slaven Bilic is reportedly lining up a reunion with Gokhan Tore this January. The Turkish winger, who worked under Bilic at the Istanbul club between 2013 and 2015, has rejuvenated his career since failing to crack the first-team at Chelsea. Despite never making a senior appearance for the Blues, the 23-year-old probably would suit the fast-paced action of the Premier League with his blistering speed and skill on the ball. Tore is an important figure at Besiktas, though, and his employers would likely expect around £10m in compensation.